The Chosen Five
Beneath the surface lurks another world. Strange landscapes slither through the dark, and eerie vistas emerge from the shadows like islands from the mist. This always-night realm of tunnels and caves wends below the world like veins beneath skin and is known as the Underdark.
When surface-dwellers speak of it, they whisper of unending darkness, crushing stone, deadly poison, horrible monsters and interminable war between terrible evils. They see a place of hopeless suffering at the hands of merciless masters and of sudden death from the claws of savage beasts or the treacherous environment. The Underdark is all of this and more.
Although few on the surface know it, the Underdark is more than pitch-black caves inhabited by monsters. Forests, mountains, cities, and seas lie underground, although they would not be familiar to the people who live so complacently above them. In sprawling fungal forests, towering mushrooms take the place of trees, and giant insects, bats, and stranger creatures formthe fauna. Spikes of rock soar hundreds and even thousands of feet into the air, sometimes joining similarly massive stalactites from above. Rivers streams, lakes, ponds, and even seas flow though the Underdark, often producing spectacular falls as they descend from on cavern to the next, but such bodies need not be made of water. Magma, acid, and even stranger substances such as churning earth and coruscating energy flow underground. And though no star or sun shines from above, crystal growths gleam with an inner radiance, light-limned lichen clings to rocks, blazing rivers of lava flow through chambers, and jets of weirdly colored fire explode from the ground.
Just as the surface holds hot deserts, muggy marshlands, and freezing glaciers, so too are parts of the Underdark touched by environmental extremes. Caves in the Underdark wend through solid ice, open into volcanic wastelands, and are soaked by dripping water that flows from the ceilings and walls onto swampy floors profuse with the weird flora of the world below. In such environments live a multitude of creatures, and as on the surface, some are predators and others are prey; some live in roving tribes, while others build settlements and even nations.